As many as one in five women in the US experience disorders related to problems with the pelvic floor, a system of muscle and tissue that supports the organs of the pelvis. Though one of the least common of these disorders, pelvic floor prolapse can have a serious impact on your quality of life.
Preventing prolapse before it happens would be ideal, but there are often combinations of factors that contribute to the condition, and in some cases, the reasons for prolapse simply aren’t known. Though there’s little you can do about genetic contributors, there are some lifestyle changes that may make prolapse less likely.
Symptoms of pelvic floor prolapse
A common sign of prolapse is a constant feeling of pressure that may be uncomfortable and even painful. This discomfort can originate in your pelvis or felt in the lower back. You may also experience:
- Bulging in the vagina
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Pain or discomfort during intercourse or physical activity
- Pelvic pressure that intensifies when you cough
Pelvic floor prolapse risk factors
Your chances of experiencing prolapse increase with age. Pelvic support tissue suffers the effects of time, and loss of youthful tone may contribute to this condition. Other risk factors include:
- Vaginal childbirth: The strain of giving birth may affect the pelvic floor, though prolapse may not occur immediately.
- Giving birth to a large baby: Birth weights over 8.5 pounds are associated with increased prolapse risk.
- Chronic pressure on your abdomen: such as being overweight or suffering from chronic constipation or frequent coughing
- Hormonal changes: resulting from natural menopause or hysterectomy
Preventing pelvic floor prolapse
Though you can’t control all the contributors to pelvic floor prolapse, you can reduce your risk by making lifestyle adjustments to limit the impact of common risk factors.
Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity adds physical strain to the pelvic floor, as well as introducing other health issues that may aggravate risk factors
Nicotine affects blood flow, essential for your body’s self-maintenance. Smokers are more likely to develop chronic coughs, adding additional pressure on the pelvic floor
General and specific exercise
Staying active is key for many aspects of your health, such as good bowel function. Kegel exercises, in particular, may help strengthen muscles of the pelvic floor.
High fiber and plenty of water are keys to good health and bowel regularity. Avoiding constipation removes a prolapse risk factor. Treat constipation as a health issue, and avoid straining during bowel movements.
Attention to physical strain
Though being active is, in general, helpful for prevention, repetitive motion that puts strain on the pelvic area may contribute to pelvic floor issues. Using proper lifting techniques that rely on your legs also reduces pelvic strain.
Every woman’s risk of developing pelvic floor prolapse is unique. For an examination and assessment of your condition, contact Dr. A. Michael Coppa at either office location by phone, or use the convenient online booking tool. Dr. Coppa can help you determine the best way to preserve your pelvic health before problems begin.